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Working in Rights: Calling All Extroverts

Elisabeth NWilkes24 February 2016

As a proud introvert, I must admit that the idea of working with books, which I often turn to recharge from too much social interaction, comforted me. While I knew (and even welcomed)  that socialisation would be involved with working in the publishing industry, I dreamed of the precious alone time, reading and thinking critically about the works my publishing house would be presenting to the world.

Despite introverts stereotypically holding the monopoly on being ‘bookworms,’ extroverts can love books just as much as they do. In fact, there are many bibliophiles that are energised by crowds and excitement instead of drained by over exposure.

And let me tell you, the book industry needs those extroverts. We need them in all segments to balance a workforce that typically attracts more introverts by the very nature of what they produce.

One section of publishing that you extroverts might want to check out is Rights. Below, I outline a few reasons why:

  1.     It doesn’t involve a law degree – Despite what it might sound like, this section of the industry has far less to do with copyright law and contracts than it does with selling. Of course, you have to be aware of the copyright and trade laws to know what you can and cannot negotiate, but your main duty is to “maximize a book’s financial potential – whether it’s selling translation … rights, merchandising, serial or book club rights, or even film rights” (Working in Publishing).
  2.     You may have the chance to travel – If you have a strong sense of wanderlust and love traveling the world and talking to people from different cultures, you should definitely look into selling foreign and translation rights. Not only are you often sent to the major book fairs (London, Frankfurt, BookExpo, etc.), but also to individual companies in many different countries all over the world.
  1.     You get to talk – a lot – This part of the industry requires a lot of relationship building between people both outside of your company and outside of your industry. If you work in serial, your interactions will be with the media, and if you work in film rights you’re talking to film producers. While there is a place for ‘getting down to business’ when making these negotiations, a major contribution to success is mastering small talk and lively conversations. It is a socialites dream, where they not only sell and promote a product they love, but also meet different types of people and build fast connections.  

This all being said, many introverts love socialising, travelling, and networking. If this is you, please consider Rights if it sounds up your alley. I only highlight Rights for extroverts because it is one of the more natural fits for extroverts wanting to be part of the book industry, but is less thought of than, say, Marketing or Sales. If any of these points interest you, please consider positions in Rights.

If, however, you have more of an artistic side that you feel needs feeding, check out next month’s post on Design to see if it may be a better fit for you.

Production: Where Books Come to Life

Elisabeth NWilkes27 January 2016

After learning about literary agency in the last post, we are now going to jump to the middle with production. The bare bone definition of production is turning a manuscript into a physical book. While it may sound like working on an assembly line, the position offers much more creative opportunities than it sounds.

According to “Working in Penguin: Careers with Penguin Group,” production is, “the physical process of transforming a manuscript into a finished book. This includes everything from producing the initial costing, arranging the typesetting, and selecting and buying paper, to organizing the printing and binding of the book and its delivery into the warehouse.” (Link)

 

This segment of the industry is not as romanticised as positions such as editor, but it can offer people a place to express their love of books in a different way. See if any of these describe you:

 

  1.     If you are practical, but also somewhat crafty: While design does most of the work with the appearance of books, production isn’t completely void of chances for artistic expression. Production is the bridge from the abstract book to the incarnated version. Design team might have an idea that works in the head, but for some reason, be it budget or unexpected demands, it is impossible to follow the plan. Production has to then step in to give alternatives to allow the book to work.

 

  1.     If you like solving problems: Production team members often have to find solutions to any issue that comes up in printing. They also have to negotiate to get prices for the paper design would like, or suggest alternatives if a solution cannot be found. Their main task is to do everything to keep the book on schedule and overcome any unexpected delays. It requires a lot of thinking on your feet and flexibility.

 

  1.     If you are organised: In production, you are working on many projects at one time and often on a strict schedule. It therefore pays to be a little finicky to make sure none of the projects get mixed up and no dates are missed. So if you like fixing chaos and are a bit of perfectionist, you might consider this part of the industry.  

 

  1.     If you like people: Working in production requires interacting with companies who supply the puzzle pieces for the book, such as paper, foil, and printing. They are also in communication with the design team, as well as marketing. Production managers must build connections and relationships with both sides. So if you like talking to many different types of people and getting out of the office every once and while, this job might be a good outlet for you.

 

If you have any number of the attributes or skills above, you might think of exploring deeper to see if this part of the industry is a good fit for you. This job is especially desirable for people who love watching ideas become a physical book to hold (not to mention that production team members are the first to see the finished product!) It’s a job with a balanced mixture of creativity and resourcefulness.

Still not piquing your interest? Then come back next month, when I will be talking about Rights!

 

Commuter Insights: Books on the Underground

Sarah LOsborne13 January 2016

So, I’ve had a month off from commuting and what a pleasure it has been! As I haven’t got much to say about commuting this month, I thought I would discuss a “project” (if you will) called Books on the Underground.

The title, Books on the Underground speaks for itself. They place books in random trains on London’s underground. They are placed there with the intent that they be taken, read, and shared with others. Books on the Underground is a not-for-profit organisation that describes itself as “your local library”.

The project’s sole purpose is to brighten people’s days in the bustling capital, and they merely ask commuters to return the books after reading them.

Books can be found via images posted by Books on the Underground. These images often feature a book in front of a station’s sign. They are always looking for other generous volunteers who are willing to distribute books, as well as any book donations.

Their idea has been so influential that there is now an established Books on the Subway in New York, and Books on the Metro in Washington D.C. Books on the Underground has also created a book club where they give out 20 free books a month to those who attend.

It’s a great idea that aims to spread the enjoyment of literature among busy commuters, many of which may struggle to find time to read and relax. It’s a thoughtful and selfless act that aims to break the repetition of daily life as a commuter, and I wish I had thought of the idea myself! It makes me look forward to the dreaded commutes, and I anticipate discovering one of the books myself. I just hope that commuters can continue to respect and appreciate the project for what it is, and fingers crossed that Books on the Underground will continue to grow!

If you want to find out more about them then have a look at their Twitter, Facebook, or website.

Next time I will be discussing a similar scheme, called Books for London.

Commuter Insights: Thoughts on writing

Sarah LOsborne16 December 2015

I’m back with commuter diaries; this time providing you with some contemplative thoughts, inspired by a train journey.

So, I was sitting on the train home, reading Inside Book Publishing by Giles Clark and Angus Phillips, when my phone vibrated, interrupting my focus. As I turned, a lady who had previously been studying me from afar found an opportunity to ask me, “What do you do in publishing?”

“Oh, I’m a student at UCL” I replied, “not yet officially ‘in'”.

The lady then went on to describe how she was writing a book that she was interested in publishing, and listed all of the difficulties it entailed. I fully understood her troublesome feelings, but instantly it highlighted the kind of industry I was going into – a challenging and eternally changing industry: one which can change a writer’s life, but one that can also shatter a dream. I felt as if it wasn’t my place to advise her, as I need to get my foot in the door first! But all the same I encouraged her, promoted social media as a useful tool to gain recognition, and told her not to lose hope.

Photo by: Gerry Balding | Flickr

Photo by: Gerry Balding | Flickr

On reflection – with a greater understanding of publishing – it has made me realise the need for publishers to nurture hope in aspiring writers. We see time and time again writers rejected on the basis of their work not being good enough; not filling a market need; not having a well known name. Occasionally we see lives turned around; a single mother who wrote on a train… was rejected by many… but soon became one of the biggest selling authors in the world – J. K. Rowling.

J. K. Rowling for me, like for many others, has been an inspiration to continue writing, and has kindled my belief that, yes anything is possible. Although, over the course of this degree, I have become increasingly concerned about my chances of getting published, I won’t let this kind of thing ruin my ambitions, nor should it for anyone else. Like Rowling, I like to think that when I graduate I will spend hours on train journeys, up and down the country, writing books (although of course, not during rush hour). Despite being confined to a chair, I can spend hours absorbing inspiration from the life around me – the business, the diverse group of people I encounter, and the contradicting, yet pleasant blur of countryside and city through the window.

It’s easy to get lost in deep thought on a quiet journey.

There are so many alternative opportunities today if you struggle to get traditionally published. If you want to write then write, don’t let the rejection of others ruin your own ambitions. Learn about publishing. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions. Explore and get inspired. But, don’t quit. Keep fighting. Keep adapting until you get where you want to be. I do believe anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Oh, and publishers, be supportive of writers. Don’t write off their dreams, or tell them they’re not good enough – after all, one day in the future, saying no may be your biggest regret.

Find author’s writing tips here:

http://freelancewritingteam.com/2013/06/19/j-k-rowlings-top-10-good-tips-for-writing-a-book/

http://uk.businessinsider.com/stephen-king-on-how-to-write-2014-8?r=US&IR=T

http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/nov/03/how-to-write-a-book-nanowrimo-national-novel-writing-month-top-tips-mg-leonard

Welcome to the new MA in Publishing cohort!

Sarah LOsborne11 November 2015

It’s November 2015, it seems so early on in the course, yet our heads are buried deep in our degree.

First and foremost, let me introduce myself and my 4 fellow bloggers. It’s only been a month and a half since the UCL Centre for Publishing have again, started teaching a new group of MA students. 4 of which include me (Sarah Louise Osborne), Elisabeth Wilkes (otherwise known as Niki), Camilla Lunde, and last but not least, Stephanie King.

We were fortunate enough to bag ourselves the titles of “Blogging Manager” for the UCL Centre for Publishing blog, and we’re all really excited to get stuck in!

What to expect from the blog?

From now on, until the end of our degree, the 4 of us will blog once a month on our own chosen blog series. Guest bloggers, and interviews will be interspersed throughout. We aim to show aspiring publishers what our course involves, tips on how to handle university workload, and most of all – show everybody why the publishing industry is so great.

The 4 blogging series are as followed:

  1. Sarah: Struggles and tips from a Commuting Student
  2. Niki: The Publishing Industry today
  3. Camilla: International Perspectives
  4. Stephanie: The Publisher’s Atlas

Each series will be published on a monthly basis, every Wednesday at 5pm.

Not just a blog, but a whole Media Team!

So, as the title states – we’re not working alone. We are working with other students controlling other media platforms – and shall together, be bringing you lots of interesting material. The platforms involve:

Twitter: @uclpublishing – Managed by Zoe Sharples and Kirsty Mackay.

Youtube – Managed by Mirjam Coenraads.

Instagram: @publishingucl – Managed by Delia Caroline Bennett, Hannah Reed, and Charlotte Parker.

All of our team are committed to bringing a variety of material and information on publishing (at UCL and in general). Twitter will be posting 2-3 times a day, Instagram 1-2 times a day (including series: Saturday Shelfie, UCL Pub recommends, lecturer’s and guest speaker quotes, and Commuter Diaries). Finally, Youtube will be posting videos on: the MA in Publishing at UCL, student experiences, guest speaker interviews, event videos and the London Book fair.

We hope that our posts are enjoyable and informative, and stay tuned for our first official series post next Wednesday!

P.S. Stay up-to-date via our Twitter @UCLPublishing, or our own Twitter accounts: Sarah @SarahLouiseOS, Niki @enwilkes, Camilla @CGLunde, Stephanie @stelkisays, Zoe @zoesharples, Kirsty @la_squish,  Mirjam @freudhasdreams2, Delia @delia_bennett, Hannah @HaReIllustrate and Charlotte @fireflyreads